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Retailers don’t share the Christmas sales message

SEVERAL WA-owned and operated retailers have reported sluggish Christmas retailing figures despite claims by retailing associations of sales growth for the period of up to 7.1 per cent.

Both the WA Retail Traders’ Association and the WA Retailers’ Association estimate strong growth over the period, but for some Christmas trading was patchy and did not live up to expectations.

Jim Kidd Sports owner Jim Kidd said business at his company’s discount store at Harbour Town was the only positive for the season’s sales figures.

“What we lost on one side we picked up on another,” he said.

“There were no crazes this year. I think computer games and phones are what the kids were wanting. Normally there is something for us that is quite strong for us.

“We have lines that aren’t just footwear and clothing. Soccer tables and air hockey tables and bocce sets.

“But you’ve got people like Action and Crazy Clarks and WA Salvage selling them.”

B Mobile national marketing manager Jeremy Cookson said the company did not experience the Christmas spikes it did a few years ago.

“Sales were pretty much the same or slightly stronger than last year but it wasn’t the runaway success of two years ago where we would see a significant spike leading up to Christmas and the new year,” he told WA Business News.

“We’ve got more consistent sales now and there is a popularity for pre-paid mobile offers, which we don’t do.

“That isolates us from the gift market. The big networks have picked up on that.”

The battle against the big players was successful for independent liquor store operator Liquor Barons, however.

Liquor Barons general manager John Sandford said its stores recorded “extremely good” profits.

“We were up 9 per cent in a market that was supposedly driven by the chains discounting. That didn’t impact on us,” he said.

“I was conscious that we had to be competitive and we did do a little more discounting than we have done to make sure we didn’t lose any customers who may have shifted.

“It worked but it hasn’t decimated the margins as a result.”

Mr Sandford attributed a portion of the good sales to growing popularity of its customer loyalty program.

While official figures are yet to be released for retail trading activity over the Christmas and new year period, WA Retail Traders’ Association manager Brian Reynolds believes feedback from members and other evidence suggests his pre-Christmas forecast of a 7.1 per cent increase in sales to be accurate.

“That would produce about a $1.94 billion increase to the State,” Mr Reynolds said.

Sectors to provide positive results were women’s fashion and small electrical products.

“It was patchy, though, there is no doubt about it. But if there was one trend that was pleasing it was that the CBD held its own this year against the major shopping centres,” Mr Reynolds said.

WA Retailers’ Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey claimed this Christmas was the best period in terms of retail spending for the past five years.

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